A Tree’s Life

Backyard Tree Banding Research Program

This program is a citizen science study of backyard tree growth in response to global climate change. Your tree can tell us a lot about forests of the future.


Trees are Important

Urban environments are stressful places for trees to live, which can degrade their health. The urban heat island effect, water stress, and greater susceptibility to pests may all play a role. As the climate warms, we may see reduced growth rates of trees and reduced carbon sequestration. On the other hand, a longer growing season may benefit trees and increase carbon capture.

Here are some of the critical services trees provide in our cities and natural ecosystems:

  • Filter air and water
  • Regulate local and global climates
  • Provide habitat for many species
  • Sequester carbon (reduce the amount of CO2 in the air)

With this study, we aim to understand how local climate and urbanization affect tree growth and carbon sequestration.

Response of Adult Trees to Warming is Poorly Understood

Most scientific studies examine the effects of warming on young trees, but adult trees are important for carbon sequestration.

  • Urban areas are warmer than less-developed or natural areas due to the urban heat island effect
  • Recent work has used urban trees as a way of studying the effect of warming on adult trees
  • Studies have found reduced growth rates for urban trees due to warmer temperatures and higher pest densities

Tree Banding Research Program

We are starting a citizen science program that democratizes the study of tree growth in response to global change. Participants will not only advance scientific discoveries, but will also have the opportunity to advance their own scientific understanding of trees and global change.

Participate in the Study


A tree band in action! Photo: Michael Just

We seek participants to measure the growth of a red maple (Acer rubrum) trees in their yards. Large-scale data collection on tree growth is necessary to understand effects of warming and we need your help.

  • We’ll provide instructions and a plastic dendrometer band to measure the growth of your red maple
  • You’ll provide yearly tree growth data and some other details about your tree, like its location
  • We’ll keep you up to date with the project’s progress

Email a-trees-life@ncsu.edu with questions.